Spring high school sports suspended, as schools directed to prepare for other potential virus-related closures
High school spring sports and other school activities are being suspended until at least early April, and school districts locally and around the state are preparing for the possibility of new COVID-19 cases showing up in school buildings.
Gov. Jared Polis issued a directive to public schools Wednesday that, in the event a student or faculty member tests positive for the rapidly spreading virus, the school should close for 72 hours to allow for schools to be disinfected.
Multiple cases in a school could result in a two-week closure, while epidemiologists conduct an investigation and recommend next steps for those schools.
“We are following this recommendation effective immediately,” the Roaring Fork School District, which includes Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt schools, said in a Thursday letter to parents and community members.
“We know that many of you are increasingly concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak in Colorado — especially as it unfolds in Eagle and Pitkin counties,” the letter states. “The safety and well-being of our staff and students is our top priority. We are working closely with the Garfield County Public Health Department as we monitor the situation and prepare for a possible outbreak in our community.”
Also in Carbondale, Ross Montessori School issued a letter to parents confirming that a middle school teacher who has been on sick leave all this week has been tested for COVID-19, also known as novel coronavirus, and is awaiting the results.
“We have no reason to believe this teacher has coronavirus,” the Ross letter stated. “If the test comes back as positive, Public Health has informed us to close school for 72 hours for school cleaning and social distancing. We would then be able to reopen for business.”
In Rifle, the Re-2 School District announced Thursday that all events and activities are canceled through April 6.
So far, there have been 10 presumptive positive cases of coronavirus in neighboring Pitkin County and 11 presumptive positive cases in Eagle County. As of Thursday afternoon, there had been no cases reported in Garfield County.
Meanwhile, the Colorado High School Activities Association — the governing body of the state’s high school sports — announced Thursday in an statement from Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green that all CHSAA-sanctioned spring sports and activities will be suspended effective Friday through April 6, “to address concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
Locally, that immediately impacts a Rifle High School baseball tournament and participating schools, including Coal Ridge and Grand Valley, that had been scheduled for Friday and Saturday. A home Glenwood Springs boys lacrosse game Friday and a Coal Ridge-Roaring Fork girls soccer game on Saturday are also now canceled.
In addition, the Glenwood Springs High School mock trial team will be staying home, as the state mock trial competition in Golden was canceled. And, Roaring Fork High School’s Model UN Club has canceled its trip to Washington, D.C. in early April.
The Glenwood Springs High School baseball team had planned a spring break team trip to Arizona to play several games in warmer climes. Those plans are now off.
“The kids are really bummed. They were all looking forward to it; it’s just such a great time to go and bond as a group,” coach Eric Nieslanik said.
“Unfortunately, it’s a complete shutdown,” he said, meaning no practices either until the suspension is lifted. “We had just started to get rolling, and this is something we’ve never really experienced. Hopefully, this will slow it down, and we’ll see what April brings.”
For both Roaring Fork and Garfield Re-2 schools in New Castle, Silt and Rifle, besides scheduled school athletic events and gatherings, all outside facility use, parent events, arts performances, and all school-sponsored domestic and foreign travel are also canceled, according to a Thursday press release.
“We will re-evaluate these decisions in early April,” according to the statement.
The Roaring Fork and Garfield Re-2 school districts are scheduled to be on spring break the week of March 23-27, and Garfield District 16 is on break next week. Roaring Fork Schools have an extra two days for their break, on March 19-20.
Colorado Mountain College also announced Thursday that students will get an extra week of spring break, through March 20, and credit classes will move to an online platform starting March 23. CMC students and faculty have been on spring break all this week as the coronavirus began to spread in parts of Colorado.
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Garfield County COVID-19 cases nearly doubled in early September with the anticipated start-of-school spike, according to local health officials.